August 15, 2011

Bolts of lightning flashed and rain fell in torrents in parts of the metropolitan area late Sunday, leaving thousands of homes in the dark and stalling cars on flooded roads, but local utilities had made some progress in restoring power by early Monday morning.

Flooding caused Metro to suspend service between the Braddock Road and National Airport stations on the Blue and Yellow lines early Monday morning. Shuttle bus service had been setup. See Dr. Gridlock for the latest details.

About a half-dozen motorists trying to leave the Montgomery County fairgrounds in Gaithersburg were briefly stranded in their cars by the rising water, said Assistant Fire Chief Scott Graham.

It was a matter of “high water, rushing quickly, and people trying to drive through it,” Graham said. All of the motorists reached safety, most on foot, he said.

High water was reported on numerous streets in the Silver Spring and Wheaton areas, police said. High water was also reported in northern Prince George’s County.

Lightning struck at least two houses in Montgomery, causing minor damage. The storm came near the end of a day in which relatively meager amounts of rain had been reported, despite several hours of threatening skies.

About 7 a.m., Pepco listed more than 3,400 homes and businesses without electricity, most in Montgomery. Dominion Power listed about 680 outages in the Northern Virginia area, but more than 8,400 in the Shenandoah Valley and western Piedmont areas. At around 10:30 p.m. Sunday night, there were more than 10,000 people without power in Montgomery County and more than 1,000 without power in Northern Virginia.

The storm made for a spectacle. On The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang blog, one comment described an “insane amount of lightning” over the Silver Spring/Calverton areas. “It’s been raining like I’ve never seen it before,” the post said.

A National Weather Service employee reported that more than two inches of rain had fallen in 45 minutes in a neighborhood near Damascus.

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